I love talking about all things shoe tech. I worked for a few years in various running and outdoor specific stores in Australia. It helped me grow my knowledge on the gear side of the sport, not just from dealing with the gear on a day-to-day basis but also from chatting with customers about their experiences.
I did a similar post last year with road running shoes. So this year, I thought I’d get into the trial side of things for fun. This is a general guide exploring some of the features of the best shoes on the market heading into 2022. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m by no means an absolute shoe expert, I’ve tried many shoes – but picking a shoe is very personal. Only you can truly know what will work best, and sometimes it will take a bit of trial and error. All a part of the fun of the sport.
Some general rules of thumb include:
For Ultra Races, you’ll want to prioritize shoes with extra protection and decent cushioning. You’re out there for a long time, in variable weather and mixed terrain. Comfort is a must
Durable and breathable upper, and a waterproof upper for alpine and wetter climate racing
A decent lacing system. You don’t want this to get in the way of your race
Room in the toe box for natural swelling in long-distance races.
No heel slip. Make sure that you fit properly in the shoe, don’t try and add things like ‘extra socks’ or ‘inserts’ just to fit a shoe, because you like the look of it or it’s ‘trendy’.
One of Salomon’s newest shoes, the Ultra Glide is a lightweight performance trail shoe that doesn’t compromise on cushioning and comfort for long distances on mixed terrain.
As with most trail shoes, the shoe is a neutral fit, allowing for best foot navigation (no one likes a rolled ankle). You’ll notice that this shoe has a rocker shape (the curve in the sole of the shoe). This is designed to support optimal gait efficiency and the responsiveness of the shoe.
I own a pair of Ultra Glides myself and really enjoy wearing them for faster trail-based efforts like fartleks and tempo runs.
The only thing to consider with this shoe is the upper is fabric-based, with no significant toe cap, so if you’re looking for a lot of foot protection, you may want to explore another option.
Salomon has a great article on how to choose your best trail running shoe – they discuss all the important factors, such as tread, foot support, stability, cushioning, terrain, mileage etc. click here to read more.
The North Face describes this shoe as lightweight, yet not compromising on stability. This is easy to spot given the considerable cushioning and rocker sole. It seems like this feature is going to become increasingly popular as we head into 2022.
I have personally tried this shoe and found it very responsive, which surprised me given the amount of cushioning particularly at the heel. It made for an even, “rolling” feel. It kind of pushed you forward, which is nice.
The only thing to consider with this shoe is that if you’re prone to rolling an ankle, and the terrain is very technical, you may want to consider a shoe with less heel-to-toe drop.
This is a well-cushioned trail running shoe that does well over longer distances, including both wet and dry conditions. The upper mesh is designed for optimal comfort and breathability to support its intended uses over longer distances.
Altra shoes are known for their incorporation of Vibram soles. On this model, they have utilized Vibram® MegaGrip™
I haven’t personally tried this shoe, however, I hear rave reviews from friends. They especially note the great traction as a result of the optimized outsole features.
The Speedgoat 4 sees an upgrade in the upper, with a newer mesh. It was designed to increase the security and support of the overall fit. This is a great improvement to enhance the responsiveness of the shoe over more technical terrain.
This shoe isn’t overly cushioned, ranked mid-way on Hoka’s scale, as ‘balanced’. It is also a neutral shoe – stock standard for trail specific footwear.
I have tried the Speedgoat and found them to be a great responsive, lightweight trail racing shoe. I often find I have issues with the toe box of shoes as I have very narrow feet and long toes. These shoes, along with the Torrent model have somehow designed a toe box that accommodates for a variety of metatarsal structure types.
La Sportiva has designed a very durable and stable shoe for long days out in the mountains, including ultramarathon events. The upper, midsole and outsole are all designed for optimal comfort and stability. Unlike some of the earlier shoes I’ve looked at in this post, this shoe is definitely on the side of stability over extreme lightweight features.
La Sportiva uses Trail Rocker technology to ensure there is outer heel and inner toe support, to optimize your natural running gait. Interestingly, this shoe was inspired by ‘origami’, due to its, “3 sides of a perfect geometry: Shock absorption, protection and comfort.”
I thought I’d include this shoe out of La Sportiva’s collection so there’s a bit of diversity in this article.
It’s in the name. This shoe was designed for ultrarunning races. The shoe has been designed to account for significant amounts of time on feet. That means taking into account swelling of the feet, cushioning, durability, sturdy traction, and the invisible lacing system.
The cushioning is on the higher end for this shoe, as expected for a long-distance model.
Dynafit explains that they have used ‘Heel Preloader Technology’ to provide better support and fit at the heel – another feature that is helpful for ultra-distance races.
Photo sourced from Arc’teryx. Shoe landing page is available here.
This is Arc’teryx’s go-to shoe for long-distance trail races. The update to the initial Norvan shoe release sees a lighter and more durable version. Like Altra, Arc’teryx also uses Vibram® Megagrip outsole technology for sturdy and durable traction.
There is also a decent amount of room in the toe box to account for potential swelling over longer distances. Another key standout, as quoted from the Norvan LD 2 landing page is the integration of, “Long-wearing EVA/Polyolefin midsole.” This helps account for the increased impact when running for substantial distances.
I personally haven’t tried this shoe. It’s definitely on my radar though!
I hope this gives you some good insight into the options on the market at present. There’s something for everyone, but it truly is about knowing your feet, biomechanics, considering your race distance, climate, training load, and terrain. If you can get in-store, that’s always best. Happy Trails ✌️
Strava Clubs are an excellent place to establish a community (a particularly active community) for your brand. I’m a big fan of Strava Clubs for many reasons. Strava Clubs are a great way to connect athletes with similar interests and/or goals in one place. Many businesses and sports clubs want to create a club on Strava for purposes such as connecting their team members, conducting virtual challenges, sharing meaningful content, and keeping each other inspired and accountable with their training goals.
Strava Clubs are interesting from a marketing perspective as they allow an outdoors and athlete-focused brand to establish themselves in a place where they are reaching their key target market. You don’t have to cast your net far and wide to interact with people who may interact with your brand and the community you foster around it.
We can compare it to Instagram to put it in perspective. Our Instagram feed shows us content within our areas of interest. It is designed this way, and we build our profiles in this way – to see exactly what we want, in a quick fix, at our fingertips. For example, my feed is full of posts revolving around outdoor trail running, climate change advocacy and projects, other mountain sports, and of course, content from my friends and family. It’s what I’m interested in and it’s the quickest way for me to fulfill that interest via social media.
What can I do with a Strava Club?
I’m going to talk through each of these below. First, here’s a brief summary – once you’ve set up a Strava Club, you can:
Get your Brand Kit uploaded! – You’ll need a logo and banner within certain pixels for best aesthetics.
Logo – 248x 248 (PNG or JPG)
Banner or Club Header – a minimum of 1200x 580 px, I found 1584 x 396 px was good
Profile Picture – 124 x 124 px (JPG and PNG)
Invite Athletes to join your club and engage with your community
You can invite them via Strava, send them an email link, or even post on your personal profile a link to your club and a CTA to join!
Share your latest content as a discussion – anything from blog articles, race information, strava challenge promotion (for your own club challenge or an official Strava sponsored challenge) – read more about that by clicking here.
Organize meet-ups and strava club events – you can schedule a day, time and place, and invite your Strava Club members to join. If you’re digital marketing savvy, you can promote this across your social platforms. Or, speak to me about this here.
Engage with your club leaderboard – that stats of your club members’ activities will be featured as a leaderboard.
Promote your Strava Club Challenge – I’m not referring to a Strava Sponsored Challenge here. I can show you how to create or leverage a Strava challenge for your club, promote your challenge and determine your winners.
Need my help building a club, learning how to create and promote Strava challenges for your club, or growing your brand presence on Strava in general? Get in touch.
Type in the location you’d like to begin your run from, in the search bar above the map.
Drag your cursor and click to draw your route, clicking to drop a point at your finishing destination. See my screenshot below for an example. I also clicked ‘show 3D terrain’ under map preferences. A new Strava Routes feature.
In the top right-hand corner, hit the bright orange ‘Save’ icon. A pop-up will appear, fill out the details and save them to your routes. See my screenshot.
It’ll then be available as an option for your Strava Club in-person/live event.
I wrote a whole article on Strava Challenges – click here to read it. I will walk you through how you can do each of the options above.
I have worked in Digital Growth Marketing for the past 5 years and am an elite distance runner and outdoor athlete. Let me know if I can help you establish a presence on Strava, or start optimizing your club for brand reach and engagement.
This is the first in a series of posts about Athlete Climate Sustainability.
(*Actionpoints are places where I’ve identified calls to action you can do)
Almost all photos are my own, taken with various iPhone cameras, except those taken in Moab.
Tyrolean Alps, Near St Anton am Arlberg, Austria. Taking a break for lunch on a beautiful day.
Athlete Climate Sustainability
Do you know what athletes and the outdoor industry are good at? Solving problems.
Well, we’ve got one of the biggest problems of all to solve right now.
How often do you check the weather? I personally check the weather around 2-3x a day, centered around what training I need to do in the morning and evening, and if I need to get outside work done. Here’s where athlete climate sustainability comes into play.
We need healthy environments to be able to enjoy the outdoors.
We also need educated athletes and the public to be able to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
Skied up to watch the sunrise over the Kosciuszko Range, NSW, Australia.
Weather patterns are becoming more extreme and/or more confusing in patterns which will no doubt impact when and how you can train, compete and potentially perform your job and outside work (such as gardening, projects, etc.)
“Engage with other people who care…you’ll feel less alone”
– Clare Gallagher (Elite US Trail Runner and Major Climate Advocate)
If you love to be outdoors and be active in nature like myself, it is our responsibility to be aware of how climate change is impacting our training playground and competition localities. Your favourite places to run, ski, surf, bike… We are a part of the environment, not separate from it. We have to start aligning our ways of thinking in that direction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to people I’m living or traveling with – “I’m going for a run, I need some time to be alone outside.” I laugh at myself because you are less alone running in the mountains than you are inside a home!
This is why I decided to release a series of researched athlete climate sustainability blog posts to not only help myself become further informed, use my digital space voice I am lucky enough to have, educate other athletes, and play my part in the education piece of sustainable climate practices.
Beautiful Killcare beach, around sunset, NSW, Australia
Climate change affects EVERYONE. Anthropogenic climate change is the number one issue. Anthropogenic means human-caused. It’s not a matter of ‘leaving it up to those in charge’, ‘society labeled or Instagram eco warriors’ or ‘those with an interest in climate change’. Much like the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It takes all of us to raise issues of concern and act accordingly.
In the case of climate denialism, one of the primary reasons it exists is because if an individual or group holds a certain belief and they search the internet enough, they will always find content to support the argument whatever that may be. Hopefully, all the fantastic and accurate content available in such a diversity of forms helps some of those individuals who are uncertain shift towards a climate-aware mindset.
Action: It is crucial to learn about athlete climate sustainability as sportspeople, and act accordingly. Whatever area you have the privilege to hold a strong voice in – the workplace, home, school, university, a sporting club, a race organizer, it’s time to use it!
In saying this, this is a massive topic, it would take me years to talk about everything I want to, and I still would want to experience, watch, read, follow and hear more! It can become quite overwhelming. In this post, I’ll focus on how athletes can play a role in climate advocacy and conservation efforts. Essentially, how to be an eco-athlete (I do believe this term shouldn’t exist in the future – we should all be eco athletes in my opinion).
Athletes, sport, and sustainability are becoming a bigger conversation in the sporting world. You’ll notice many athletes are speaking up on social media, sponsors are beginning to voice their opinions, race directors are ensuring their events are ecologically sustainable (that means, no plastic cups, refillable bottles, and packs, ensuring athletes, crew, and aid stations are as minimally invasive to the surroundings as possible etc.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t just train, run for fun, and race. I know I have to make an impact because I care too much, and I believe it is the responsibility of everyone. Not everyone will agree with your decision to speak out, but a majority will.
Just like everything else is an ‘ecosystem’ in essence, the forward path of improvement needs to also be an ecosystem – multiple parts, en masse, working for common goals. If you’re like me, I wanted to know how I could further play a role other than smaller impact activities like cleaning up my local area (which, I’ll continue to do, alongside other things!).
According to Project Drawdown and Trail Runner Magazine (Sourced from Spring 2020 Issue), the best 4 actions an individual can take are:
Avoid air-based travel
Have fewer children
Eat a plant-based diet
Mt. Gower Summit Trail, looking over at Mt. Lidgebird. Lord Howe Island, NSW, Australia
However, it isn’t about prescribing a list of things you ‘need’ to do. It is about doing what you can do, which could mean minimizing the meat you eat, reducing flight and car travel. I am by no means perfect, I travel by air a lot. If you’re like me, make sure you offset your carbon emissions when travelling. Further on in this post I’ll discuss very simple and more complex ways to implement more sustainable practices into your athletic life, and become well versed in Athlete Climate Sustainability.
Remember, to have the ability to train, safe spaces to train, the resources to train and fuel to train is a massive privilege not to be taken for granted. Have a listen to a discussion about this with Caroline Gleich here on Spotify.
So, what actually makes a long-term climate change difference?
Running around Seefeld, Mosern – Austria.
All talk and no action is way too common nowadays. Tom Carroll, Economist and microeconomic excerpt around climate believe that whilst activities such as beach clean-ups and plogga make a small difference, in the grand scheme of things the long-term impact of recruiting those with powerful voices in an array of industries to speak up will have a far larger impact. We can’t leave it up to climate activism industries or large sporting corporations to do all the talking and take all the action.
For example, the head of a multinational finance company begins speaking about climate change in relation to how it will impact their industry specifically.
Action: Instead of the individual and their team simply speaking about it, they engage a CTA (Call-to-action) and start doing. What could doing look like?
Establishing sustainable workplace climate practices and ensuring it is upheld. For example, single-use plastic reduction, recycling, glass and general waste (compost too!)
Incentivize employees to commute to and from the workplace in a more sustainable manner
Where zoom meetings are possible, encourage this to reduce client travel
In newsletter drops, sharing client and staff stories of how they made a short or long term impact, or somewhere outdoors they value and why. This is a bit like storytelling marketing – put a story to the issue, and people are a lot more likely to engage with the content.
Pick an area of impact within the greater climate change issue, and commit to events to fundraise for that area that incorporate employees. It can double as office events and bonding.
Start by identifying what you are most passionate about in the area of sustainable sport.
Falls Creek Altitude Training Camp, 2017.
I know when researching, writing, and collaborating on this content it was easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of routes I could take in discussing athlete climate sustainability and sustainability in sport in general.
But how do I identify what this is for me?
Action: If you’re a runner or an athlete that competes in a multitude of different environments, I’d suggest figuring out how either your local playground (by playground, I mean outdoor adventure area!) or favourite place to travel for sport or competition is being impacted and start there. It will take some research, but the resources are definitely out there. I listed some at the bottom of this article that may help get you started!
If you’re a swimmer, for example, you likely already hold a passion for movement in the water, so you could begin there! Same for skiing (nordic, alpine, skimo, etc.) – how is your favourite mountain being directly impacted? What resources and groups already exist that you could explore?
Training Partner Extraordinaire Madi and I on a run in the Karwendel Alps, Austria.
There’s a major issue with running shoe and footwear waste in general. If you’ve watched the Salomon Sustainable series – Solving the sample challenge (available here on Youtube) you’ll observe how there is a massive issue with sample shoe production. Salomon has actively reduced their production of sample shoes by switching to 3D digital concept technology and sending 3D samples to reduce CO2 consumption.
On Running’s Cyclon shoe – the first circular pair of running shoes which run on a subscription is also groundbreaking. This way, On Running states they do not generate waste, they recycle the shoe. It is made entirely of Castor Beans – from a tree, harvested and processed into a plastic sustainably!
Shipping shoes utilizing non-plastic materials is also ideal, including recycled shoe boxes, which many outdoor industry leaders are doing.
However, we as consumers also need to consider how to reduce our own shoe waste.
Find another use for them. A few of my funky racing flats make for great sneakers. I still wear them to walk in, and do outdoor chores.
Enquire at your local running store, more often than not they will have either a donation bin or shoe drive.
Reduce Single-Use Plastics
I was stand-up paddle boarding in Hardy’s Bay around sunset, on the central coast of New South Wales, Australia. I was very lucky to see a turtle on this particular outing. On my paddle back to the dock, I noticed a plastic bottle bobbing around in the sea foam. Having just encountered a turtle a little further out in the bay, I immediately was saddened by the common reality of litter floating around in water bodies, or entering the waterways.
It’s our responsibility to lead by example, here are a few:
Enquire at your local food joints about single-use plastics, if they haven’t jumped on board a sustainable path yet.
Fabric wrap your gifts.
Invest in sustainable fashion and gear, not fast fashion – look for bamboo and cork in gear.
This is a great video from Patagonia regarding waste and human consumption in relativity to clothing. Click here to watch it.
Without the ocean, we would not be here. Unfortunately, microplastics, dumping, oil rigs and drilling, and overfishing to name a few, are leaders in adversely impacting the environment. Increased atmospheric CO2 levels also have an impact, leading to increased acidity, warmer oceans, increased ocean temps, and the decay of shell-based organisms.
What can you do? The suggestions in this post that guide you in reducing your carbon footprint, reducing single-use plastics, and being mindful of where you pour liquid wastes (for example, if you wash your car) are all good starts. Take 3 for the sea is also a very good micro-initiative. If you’re around a body of water, take 3 pieces of trash with you and dispose of it properly.
Travel for Competition and Training
When traveling for competition and training, travel responsibly. This means:
Travelling in groups (where possible) to reduce transportation means
Offsetting flight emissions
Holding virtual meetings where possible to reduce travel
Competing in and supporting local events
Mend gear, instead of buying or requesting new gear for travel. You don’t need a new jacket if it can be mended.
Event organizers and sponsors should make every effort to be free of plastic cups and dispose of all wrappers (gels!!) responsibly. Entrants should be encouraged to carry refillable water packs/handhelds etc. in endurance events.
Sourcing race fuel from local businesses is also a great idea. Prizes from local companies are also forward-thinking sustainable decisions.
Races with a high budget should avoid using helicopters where possible, particularly for the purpose of content creation. Drones are way better anyway!
For athletes, remember:
If you pack it in, pack it out
Make sure you do your business far away from any water source
Stick to the marked course.
Water and packs (tips and tricks)
Don’t drink straight from the stream (in most cases), iodine is the lightest water purifier for water, then something like SteriPEN and a portable filter is next.
Always go for a running water source, and upstream is best.
Eating Sustainably for Athletes
Anna’s Vegie Dahl Recipe – Thank you Anna!
I understand it is not easy for everyone to go entirely plant-based. The UN Climate Report of 2019 called for people to eat less meat. As an athlete, it is possible to fuel yourself and do this. Try having meat-free days, and experiment with other forms of protein for cooking. This could look like, and by no means limited to:
Tofu – you can get silken, moderately silken, firm, extra firm (all have different purposes!)
Tempeh – Try pressing them in a sandwich press after marinating in brown rice syrup and soy sauce, great in stir frys and buddha bowls of sorts.
Eggs from cage-free, free-range sources (or if you’ve got enough land and time, invest in some chickens!)
Anna suggests that you could try replacing beef with kangaroo meat, as this is much more sustainable and ecologically friendly. Kangaroo meat is more ‘chewy’, high in iron, and lean. We suggest cooking it in a curry or fragrant dish. Try this Kangaroo Coconut Curry.
Local Cave Running Adventures
Awesome Endurance athlete Sebastian Salsbury (@sebrunsfar) recently posted on Instagram about creating a blanket from race old t-shirts. Creative ideas like this are a great alternative to donating to charity, which often is inundated with old t-shirts anyway.
Fixing old gear might take a bit of time, but it’s cheaper and much better for the environment.
Plogging is the act of jogging or hiking (or any movement in general) and collecting trash/rubbish. The word plogging was created by combining ‘jogging’ with ‘plocka up’, a Swedish term for ‘picking up’. Struggling to get out to train? Incorporate plogga for a bit of fun.
Vote to elect those who are willing to speak
We need collective and individual action to vote ourselves, and educate others on how crucial it is to vote for those who will speak in the places where legislation is made.
Use your voice and create content.
Social media and increasing access to digital platforms has allowed for more people to promote their values on the internet. Whilst this can be a negative thing in some cases, such as the spread of misinformation, when it comes to climate action it’s time to speak up. Creating shareable content such as Instagram reels around athlete climate sustainability is a fantastic idea.
Sponsored athletes who may have content support and extra leverage should use these resources to advocate. It is so important to utilize your influence and voice to make an impact. Athletes more often than not are a well-respected voice in society, who people are willing to listen to. We need to set ambitious goals and be bold.
Big changes come from above. I am reading a great book called ‘Culture Code’ which stresses this. Amazing athlete Emilie Fosberg has also emphasized this point. Learn and seek education.
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP
What parts are you most interested in? Learn more about those. Ultimately, sustainable athletes have sustainable skills for any scenario. Refreshing your skills is also important – just like when learning to climb, or in the backcountry.
Why are sports so critical for sustainability?
Millions of people have an interest in sports and sports-people. I could prove this by showing the target market range on the backend of facebook ad manager when designing video advertising campaigns. Sports are an amazing platform to voice facts, tell sport specific stories related to climate, and conversations centralized around climate change. Rather than create new platforms, a more efficient way of communication is using those that already exist.
Sport can promote grassroots actions, such as those in the sports team, outdoor company or individual’s local community
Since outdoor sports people are the ones relying on the environment to play or do the activity, it is important that these environments still exist in the future to continue these activities. Hence the crucial importance of sustainable athletes and sustainable sporting actions.
How has climate affected athletes?
Tyrolean Alps, Austria (An all-time favourite of mine)
Increased extreme weather
From lengthy periods of time in extremely unhealthy AQI levels due to mass wildfires and bushfires, rainouts, heat as discussed above and increasing severity of storms – the changing weather patterns will have a significant impact on the ability to train and compete in sports. According to a NASA study, around 75% of the Swiss alps glaciers will have melted by 2050. The Norwegian National Nordic team trained in Italy this year as there was less snow in Norway than usual. Snowfall levels are dropping, and rising temperatures in normally arctic environments are causing massive changes in ecological systems (and most definitely all these changes aren’t visible to the human eye). New species actually get created in snow algae as the temperature warms.
Rising Temperatures: Heat and Athlete Health
Lucky Peak State Park, Idaho. Thick smoke in September from the wildfires.
During my middle school years, I fondly remember some touch football games where we were expected to play in 40 degrees celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. That’s around 1 hour of running and sprinting in blazing heat. I believe the rules around play and heat are stricter now, but at the time it was pretty unsafe. The only way we made it through was with constant substitutions, ice, and shaded cool off sports. Unfortunately days reaching these temperatures are becoming more frequent as time passes which puts many sports at risk.
Further, many events may have to be cancelled in the future, such as ultra marathons in extreme climates due to the participant and event organizing team health risks being too high.
A series of two papers on heat and health were released by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington (Lancet 2021; 398: 698–708). The first paper identified the health risks of hotter weather and heat extremes.
The paper discussed the concerning increase in deaths and illness as a result of extreme temperatures. To quote the paper, “Robust evidence of the relationships between hot weather and morbidity and mortality is being augmented with growing evidence of other effects, including on occupational works, and professional and recreational athletes.” (704-405).
The thing is, we don’t even understand the full-scope of risk yet. The paper brings attention to the fact that heat-related health issues and deaths from the “first two decades of the 21st century will be poor predictors of risks over the coming decades.” (698) All the more reason to mitigate the risks now.
Running Mt. Superior with Alyssa, Northern Utah
The key takeaway from the first of this two paper series was:
“without urgent investments in research and risk management actions, climate change will continue to increase heat-related hazards, and associated morbidity and mortality.”
We will have to hold events and training in different areas as we shift into warmer climates and more extreme weather patterns. This will impact sports (but not limited to) such as running, skiing, hiking and open water swimming.
A prime example I can think of is ultramarathons conducted in desert environments. In Australia with rising temperatures, it could become almost impossible to run these types of events.
Externally to sport, the amount of people including indigenous communities being displaced is a massive issue. Climate refugees are being forced to evacuate their homes because of these environmental shifts which make the land uninhabitable. I recently watched a documentary on this topic for the native people of Kazakhstan who rely on horses and livestock to live.
How do sports affect the environment?
Nordic Skiing in Silverstar, Canada
Sports affect the environment considerably, as we move in nature every day. It is crucial that we conduct our sports and events sustainably to ensure that the very environments we train and race in still exist in the future.
Whilst we may be more environmentally aware as outdoor sports people, the sports we play and do have more adverse impacts on the environment than most other sports.
Issues such as microplastic shedding from clothes and gear is prominent, highlighted via testing of grasses and forms of moss in the mountains and trails – you could plot a map of high human traffic, even if we believe we are not leaving a trace. A few awesome climate-conscious companies are working on creating clothes and gear that do not shed in the wash and prevent this microplastic shedding. Make sure you read the label of the gear you buy, buy for durability and lifelong use (no fast fashion!), and from climate-conscious companies.
Race organizers, spectators and competitors also have a duty to the environment. Carbon Neutral events are a must goal for the future. A wonderful research article published by Pamela Wicker from Australia and New Zealand highlights how “participants in nature sports had the highest (CO2 equivalent) emission levels.” However, Wicker highlighted how environmental consciousness does reduce these levels on the larger scale. This is where smaller habits, education and speaking out are key.
Educate and involve yourself as an athlete with these resources:
Utilize your digital platforms to speak up, and lead by example. Make the changes in your life, in your industry’s field, and ask others to follow suit. It is imperative that we all get involved in some way or another. This guide can help you find local groups and companies who are taking actions towards the global climate crisis. I hope you find it helpful.
Blue Pools, Idaho. Around half an hour later, we had hiked down into the canyon.
A summary of sustainable and climate conscious habits you can action now (*Action):
Click here to visit Reach Not Preach, a forum of youth voices for climate including youth voice for climate.
Stay educated in areas which spark your interest. The climate crisis can feel overwhelming, so it can be a better idea to focus on areas you are particularly passionate about.
Stay in touch about the next #thehumanrace which directly involves athletes and your training!
Carry around a reusable bag (in your car, in your bike bag, folded in your handbag) so you can avoid using a plastic bag if the opportunity presents.
Forfeit a few coffees a month and donate $10-20 to an organization of your choice. Most of us can do this. I do this.
Carry a refillable water bottle, preferably made from more ecologically-sound materials.
Buy clothing that is durable and long lasting, and repair it when possible. Better to buy expensive and quality once, than less quality twice!
Implement meat-free days in your diet, or regular meals.
Get a compost bin, and ensure you recycle – even better, recycle each component.In Switzerland I remember me and my cousin would walk to the recycling depot and separate each component, it was fantastic. In Australia, I use a Bokashi Bin for compost. This is even possible if you live in higher density living areas.
Walk and Bike more, use a car less. Even public transport is a better option.
Carbon offset your travel – most airlines will offer you this.
Look for tags when shopping that indicate the company you are purchasing from is conscious of sustainable practice and is making an effort to make their apparel and gear more climate friendly.
Race in events that are sustainable, and if they aren’t, write to the race organization team asking for alternatives to plastic cups, wrappers and other non-sustainable activities.
Start speaking up on your social media. Now’s the time to use your voice for something bigger than your own personal achievements in sport.
If you’re a sponsored athlete, have open discussions with your sponsor about their sustainability practices, how you can best use your voice to raise concerns and bring attention to climate action events. Also make sure you’re aware of your sponsor’s climate policies and/or sustainability pledge.
The Athlete Climate Academy was established by renowned adventure athletes Kilian Jornet and Huw James. They speak about various topics weekly, and hold live seminars each month online which all are welcome to participate in! The Athlete Climate Academy Session 3 is on September 24th 2021. This is a sensible time for my European and US Friends. For my Aussie friends, this is 3am, and my US Friends, I believe a lot of Australians will still be in lockdown, so if ever there’s been a time to stay up for something, I highly recommend this.
Otherwise, give the podcast a listen – it is one of the easiest ways to learn more in any sub-topic.
The Athlete Climate Academy Podcast is great. If you’re a spotify user you can listen to an episode (or 3!) by clicking here. If you’re an apple podcast kinda person, click here.
An amazing podcast about all things outdoors, including important discussions around sustainable practice when getting out and amongst it. Click here to listen on apple podcasts.
A Few Ideas for Local Involvement and Action
Runners 4 public lands (USA)
Runners for public lands recognize that climate change is the most important issue at present. RPL helps connect the running community to resources that help mitigate climate change and reduce its impacts. RPL advocates across a variety of sectors, including Climate Action, Environmental Sustainability, Equitable Access and Public Lands.
Become a member and get exclusive access to RPL events and store discounts. Click here.
Bushcare, Landcare and Coastcare (Australia)
Bushcare, Landcare and Coastcare groups exist in abundance across Australia. In my suburb where I grew up in Sydney there is a different group for almost every nature reserve. I volunteered for Bushcare throughout most of my middle and high school career. It is only a few hours each week, or every odd week depending on the group you choose. These groups help to maintain or rehabilitate areas that are degraded. You can even hop around groups – super convenient! Click here to learn more.
Ironically, outdoor sports people have a greater connection to nature than most other sports, however, we leave a bigger carbon footprint. Therefore, it is crucial we are educated about how exactly we impact the climate, and mitigate our impacts as much as possible, especially when we are outside doing what we love.
This is an excellent website, with Calls to Action for the athlete. I sourced this from Outdoor Friendly Pledge website:
Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge
This is a personal favourite project to follow – uniting major brands and outdoor focused entities for inclusion and diversity. It is important that all have a voice in matters concerning the environment. If we don’t promote diversity and inclusion, then we will never have the strength in voices and action we need. Click here to learn more.
Join THE COOL DOWN
This is a movement for athletes, centered around making significant change in the world and addressing the climate crisis as a team. Sign up here.
Don’t own an electric car, but want to offset your emissions? Go Neutral!
By purchasing a Go Neutral Vinyl Sticker for your car, you’re purchasing 3.2 tonnes of carbon offsets. Click here to learn more.
Learn about the projects at The Kilian Jornet Foundation
Amazing and respected athlete Kilian Jornet has established and dedicated his time to an array of projects to lay the foundations of a better sustainable future. The foundation is directly affiliated with some of the projects I’ve discussed above, however here is the link to learn more about other projects, including the retreat of glaciers and educational resources: Click here.
Stay aware and up-to-date on Instagram with Climate focused accounts and organizations
(non-exhaustive, just touching on it here!)
Mountain and land related:
@anturuseducation (Athlete Climate Academy)
@summit.ngo ( Swiss, lower human impact on the environment)
@plogga (Swedish! – run with a purpose!)
@beachcleanups (Australia and Japan)
@Waveslobitos (act local, surf global – sustainable surf travel)
An E-book guide for athletes will be released super soon. Stay tuned.
– There is no planet B –
A big thank you to the amazing Land Care Environmentalist and Lord Howe Island local Anna Charlton-Shick, who provided insightful points surrounding eating sustainably, reducing single-use plastics, and ocean awareness. Anna can be found on Instagram here: @annacharltonshick
How To Have More Energy For Running: The ROI’s of Sport
Written in conjunction with a sports medicine specialist, ex-elite athlete, and consulting of a variety of accredited sources.
ROI in digital marketing means the return on investment. We calculate ROI by figuring out how much we have invested in ads, and how much revenue we’ve made as a result of those advertising investments. If our ROI is low, we have to figure out why, and a solution to improve. It’s a matter of updating, refreshing, and/or rethinking, most often. In training the other day, I thought about how similar this is to being a competitive athlete. What we put in, including the 1%’s like sleep, nutrition, and forms of recovery all add up to a better ROI for the athlete.
This inspired me to write an article on Energy, Fatigue, and Running. How can we increase our ROI, whilst maintaining a healthy balance between sport and life outside of sport.
For many individuals, exercise can increase energy levels, but did you know that there are many other ways to do this? For athletes that train in high loads, a buildup of fatigue is very natural, and quite often exercise won’t be the best source of ‘gaining’ energy.
I will go over some easy tips for running more efficiently and how they can help you have more energy for running and other training in general. One way is by setting a goal for yourself that has nothing to do with how many miles you intend to cover during each jog. It could be a location destination, a sunset observation, planning to meet up with a team or a friend, or a podcast you’ve been waiting to listen to.
Setting goals related specifically to what kind of pace you’d like to achieve (i.e., faster than normal or average) can also help you have more energy when running. You don’t have to look at splits, you can go by feel as well. In fact, I often think this is the better approach when leading a busy life outside of training demands.
Why Do I Have No Energy When I Run?
This is a loaded question. There are a large array of reasons why someone may feel as if they have no energy when they run. Often, if medical issues are ruled out, it can be a result of one or a combination of sleep, nutrition, and recovery.
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel like jogging around your neighborhood or taking a spin class at the gym? It’s easy to get motivated when it’s still dark outside and all you can think about is coffee. But what happens after lunchtime rolls around? Often at times, people will skip a workout because they are tired or feel too lazy to exercise. Get it done early, before the distractions of the day set in.
A lack of energy can also be a result of a calorie deficit. If you haven’t fuelled enough the day before, and wake up hungry, you’ll lack energy for your workout. I am a big fan of the pre-training snack. This can be something as simple as a banana, or a small bowl of cereal 1hr to 30 minutes before training, depending on intensity and time constraints.
Keep easy days easy, and hard days hard.
Athletes are often given programs by their coaches, which have the various sessions set out to ensure adequate recovery after high-intensity sessions, and longer slower sessions factored in. However it’s very common to see athletes who during their long slow sessions become bored, and speed up, turning it into a long hard session, or who, for example, whilst cycling in a group, see someone going off the front, and can’t help themselves by chasing – and so, the session turns into a fartlek/sprint session. This will then drain the athletes’ energy systems so that they may not recover adequately for their next session, and over time can result in burnout.
How Can I Increase My Energy For Running?
Sleep and Running
Sleep is the only time the body entirely recovers. I would be as bold to say it is the best thing you can do to put an extra edge on your physical performance. If you are having trouble sleeping, then this can lead to decreased energy levels when running. Put simply, a lack of sleep often causes your body temperature and heart rate to change so that it is more difficult for the muscles in your body to function as they should during exercise. While you may want to catch up on rest during the weekend, it is best not to break your normal sleeping schedule too much.
Getting quality REM sleep and (Rapid eye movement sleep) deep sleep are important in order to have more energy when running. These are two different stages of sleep. High REM sleep quality allows us to perform better mentally, and a lack of REM sleep is often the cause of that common feeling of sleep deprivation.
If you know someone who tends to have insomnia or stays up late at night working on a computer or watching television, then you may want to consider getting them blackout curtains for their bedroom. You could even take it a step further and download f.lux to adjust the lighting on your laptop, and wear blue light filtering glasses in the evenings to promote the production of melatonin. A good night’s sleep will help keep energy levels even throughout the day and make training much more enjoyable overall.
Blue Light and Melatonin – Get outdoors in the morning!
Make sure you step outside in the morning when daylight or sunlight is up. Our body is designed to wake up better with light, and even better if you look at the ‘blue’ in the sky. It signals that it is the beginning of the day and to halt the production of melatonin.
If you’re an evening runner or have a double, although you may be tempted to go home and take a nap after work instead of going on your run, there are some ways to make exercising at this time much easier and even fun!
Vitamin D for Runners – Natural energy from the sun.
Many people report a boost in energy when exposed to direct sunlight. What is the connection between Vitamin D, sunlight, increased energy, and improved mood? There are many studies that show the link between Vitamin D levels and depression. People living with chronic pain conditions like Fibromyalgia often report symptoms of depression because their condition can be very difficult to manage and has a poor prognosis that makes it feel hopeless. The good news on this topic is quite encouraging!
Vitamin D is a great supplement to existing treatment plans for depression, chronic pain conditions, and fatigue. However, if you can get your daily dose of vitamin D naturally – from sunlight (even 10 minutes is great!), and foods such as oily fish, red meats, egg yolks, and cheese for example that is even better. For vegans, some food sources high in Vitamin D are mushrooms, fortified plant milk, and cereals. Mushrooms are the best natural plant source of Vitamin D. Ultimately, sunshine is king.
Some people do feel better after taking a single dose of Vitamin D consistently. It’s important to realize that taking Vitamin D on an ongoing basis will have continuing benefits on your mood.
Some people like to have a cup of coffee before heading out for training. If timed well, this can be extremely beneficial. In fact, I wrote an entire article on coffee for runners. This article included how to time your caffeine intake, how caffeine can be taken in different forms and some of the negative side effects of coffee. Give it a read by clicking the link here: https://larahamilton.com/coffee-for-runners/
While coffee may help boost your energy levels, if you are not used to caffeine before high-impact activity, it can be a cause of GI problems which can shut down your run entirely. It’s important to train yourself to eat and drink before you run, so when race day comes along, it’s like clockwork.
Considering this, some people prefer to only have caffeine around race day. If you’re like me, I chose to drink Matcha (green tea powder), green tea or Decaf coffee the weeks leading up to a race, and only drink coffee close to race time for a potential performance enhancing effect.
Build up energy for running long distances
For runners starting out, setting small goals will make exercising much more manageable because they are easier to achieve (i.e., walk around a block one time). Once these smaller tasks feel easy enough, then move onto another goal until finally working up toward whatever big fitness wish list item has been on hold for so long. You can even start with run-walks, as athletes returning from injury must do.
This can look something like 1-minute walk, 1-minute run, repeated 10-20 times depending on where you’re at with fitness or recovery.
Also, remember not to be too hard on yourself when you don’t reach an initial goal right away. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For seasoned runners, energy increase and fatigue resistance comes with consistency in training and scheduled recovery periods. Be patient, and it will come. This is why it is called training or practice.
Strength Training for Distance Training
If you want to reduce fatigue and get faster, lift weights. I’m sick of hearing about injured distance runners who do no resistance training.
Think about it like this – if you’re pounding your body as a high-level runner for 50 miles a week, that’s a lot of stress through the whole system. Muscular, skeletal, and even cellular. You want to be doing everything within your control to make sure you can sustain that load and rock up to the start line uninjured….. and beyond the start line through the race.
If you are looking for a way to have more energy when running, then consider adding strength training into the mix. If guided correctly by a knowledgeable strength and conditioning specialist or exercise physiologist, this will allow you to gradually build muscles and therefore build up muscular endurance so that running doesn’t become difficult halfway through every workout session. Strength training can also be done in conjunction with various forms of cross-training exercises like biking, paddling, or swimming because they work in a variety of muscle groups and go through different ROM (range of motions).
Strengthen your bones for running
Our bones love different stimuli – that is how to strengthen bones. Repetitive sports, such as distance running, only strengthen your bones on a certain plane. Adding in a variety of sports will strengthen them on different planes and vectors.
This is why cross-training should be included in a running program. It has a purpose, not just for recovery from injury.
So how important is it to stretch before a run?
Yes, stretching is an important part of any workout routine because it helps you warm up and prepare for exercising at higher intensities so that your muscles don’t feel as tired when running. However, what is more, important is using the right muscles and then you’ll find, you won’t need to stretch as much. For most people, the deep postural stabilizers, also known as your “core” are not firing correctly. I’m not talking about the superficial “6-pack abs” here, these muscles are much deeper than that.
You can have visible abs and little “core” strength. These are deep muscles that can’t be seen. This is a very complex topic which I will explore in a future post. If you’re interested in reading more on this and improving your biomechanics and body alignment, head over to TIE (The Invisible Exercise) by clicking here.
What will give me energy before a run?
How To Have An Energy Boost Before Running – Take a rest day or a down week!
Recovery is a part of your training program – it is just as important as the training!
You’re not a machine. You’re human, and you have to respect the body. Give it the time to strengthen and recover. Gains are made when we rest and repair.
If you feel as though your body needs a day off from exercising, then don’t be afraid to take one. Your mind and muscles will thank you for giving them the rest they need before starting up again with another training cycle.
In fact, having a down week every 4-6 weeks is super important to ensure the body absorbs the work you’ve put in, and decreases the risk of injury. Time it up with your key races if you can, working with your coach and team commitments if you have one.
There was an article on this in the recent issue of Australian Trail Running Magazine, if you can get your hands on a copy.
How Diet Affects Energy For Running
This is very simple. Energy intake has to equal energy output.
The biggest mistake long-distance runners make is not realizing the high level of calories they need to balance the energy equation. Most long-distance runners have low energy availability. This doesn’t just affect the body in its appearance.
It affects every single system in the body. Here are a few examples:
The gastrointestinal tract, causing slow transit time
Psychologically, with interrupted sleep patterns
Neurologically, it reduces coordination and strength
Changes the metabolism, so instead more fat is stored in the liver
It affects bone mineral density
Increases risk of injury
A healthy balanced diet can be obtained from a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, alongside healthy and diverse fat and protein sources. We don’t actually need to spend gazillions of dollars on fancy supplements.
So, low energy input equals low energy output. I’m a big fan of eating before training in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a full meal, but working out fasted isn’t helping me achieve my goals of high-quality workouts and speed, strength, and endurance gains from these workouts.
What should runners eat for breakfast?
People who run regularly in the morning are often advised to have a healthy and balanced breakfast before heading outside for their daily jog or workout session. This will help keep blood sugar levels even throughout the day so that energy is sustained with each passing hour. This is even more important for insulin-resistant individuals, like me. I wrote an article about my normal pre-race and pre-session breakfasts here, including examples: https://larahamilton.com/5k-meal-plan/
The Impact of Alcohol On Running
While having a few drinks might seem like the perfect way to unwind after work, it can have some negative side effects on your body for running. Alcohol can dehydrate your body and cause muscle cramps if you have too much, so it is best to avoid drinking /running (especially if you are thirsty and need to replenish your body’s water levels).
Further, drinking will impact sleep. You may be able to achieve deep sleep, which can help muscular repair, however, the mentally restorative stages of sleep (REM) following the deep sleep stage, are rarely reached as the body is working overtime to process the alcohol consumed.
In conclusion, there are many ways to increase your overall energy before and after a run. I hope you take these tips and incorporate them into your daily regimen!
The top tips, summarized.
Nutrition during exercise > 60 minutes
Adequate CHO (carbohydrates) in the first 15 minutes after an endurance race
Sleep 8 hours minimum per night
Understanding that mental and physical recovery is as important as training strategies.
Ensuring there is a balance in life with some social and recreational activities, specific recovery actions such as massage, sports psychology, ice baths (if you are into them) stretching, and appropriate strengthening work.
Work-life balance and recovery are particularly an issue in long-distance triathletes, ultra runners, and adventure racers.
In athletes who participate in tournaments and regattas, ensuring adequate hydration and nutrition between bouts and races will diminish feelings of fatigue.
Overall though, making sure that one has a range of interests, not just work and training, to maintain a healthy mental state. Mental fatigue can be a major source of physical fatigue.
If you’re like me and like to explore new places on foot (or occasionally, bike or ski), optimizing your ability to create Strava segments and follow your creations is a must.
Making use of the awesome create segment Strava feature is a must for any premium strava user. If you’re paying for Strava Premium, you may as well optimize your experience. I see and hear of many users who aren’t even aware of half of the things they can do with a premium membership. I write these articles to educate you on how to make the most of your Strava Membership and experience. Need more help? – click to contact me here.
Create a Strava Segment feature/Create a route that allows you to plan training routes, including elevation, surface, distance, and projected time on feet, set up segment-based Strava challenges for your club or business, and explore new outdoor playgrounds for prospective training.
To make your own segment on Strava is now relatively easy. The use the create segment Strava feature, however, you need to be a Strava Premium user.
All Strava users can, however, compete on segments and score on a leaderboard. To appear on leaderboards the user needs to have the activity in public, not private or followers only. Cue notorious Strava Segment hunters!
Here’s how to create segment on Strava using the Strava website. First, click on the Explore tab dropdown menu on the top of the webpage, and click create a route. See my screenshot below:
Next, you’ll need to type in the search bar, where I’ve typed ‘Mount Hood, Oregon’ as an example in, the location where you would like to create a strava segment.
In the screenshot below, I’ve selected a road in Boise, Idaho.
The orange line on N Cartwright Road is one I’ve drawn. The map is interactive, meaning you can click and draw lines on the most reasonable roads/accessible by foot areas on the map.
I began this segment example on N Bogus Basin road and finished it at an intersection on N Cartwright Road (please note, this is for example only, I haven’t actually created this as a segment).
Notice all the options on the left-hand menu – I click to ‘Show Segments’ under Map Preferences, to see what areas around me already have segments. This prevents me from potentially creating a duplicate Strava segment.
Once you’re happy with the segment you’ve created, check the elevation, distance, and other stats in the horizontal stat bar on the bottom of the map, click the ‘Save’ icon (bright orange, far left corner of the screen).
Next, you’ll be prompted to save your route and customize it. See the screenshot below.
My Routes: Running your own Strava Segment
You can find your created Routes or Strava Segments under the Dashboard tab, and the dropdown menu which has a ‘My Routes’ option. See the screenshot below for example.
So, how do you follow/run/ride/ski/hike your route? There are a few ways…
Follow your Strava Segment on the Strava Mobile App
If you literally want to follow your Strava segment on the Strava Mobile App (this would mean you need to carry your phone with you), it is very simple.
Go to the record screen, and hit Routes.
There’ll be an option to ‘Use Route’ – hit that. Boom.
Export your Strava Segment onto a GPS Device
If you have a Garmin Watch that supports Courses, you can export your route data to your watch. First, you have to make sure that Strava Courses/Routes connection is enabled between your GPS device and Strava.
There are 2 ways to do this – from the Garmin Connect App, and The Garmin Connect Website.
Enable Strava to Garmin connection via the Garmin Connect Website
On the Garmin Website in your User/Account information, make sure Strava has permission to access Activities and Courses. Both toggles should be switched on to green.
Next, Sync your Strava Segments and/or Routes to your Garmin
Now that Strava and Garmin are synced, it’s time to import the Strava Segment and/or route onto your watch. To do this, make sure your route is both public, and ‘starred’. What the heck does ‘Starred’ mean?
See my screenshot below.
This is the Strava website view – I’ve starred my ultra training long run so I can upload it to my watch. Again, I got to ‘My Routes’ under the dropdown ‘Dashboard’ menu running horizontally at the top of the Strava Website. The Star is to the left, next to the title. Any starred routes will appear in the ‘Courses’ folder of your Garmin watch after you next sync it with Strava.
On the mobile app, you can also star your routes. Go into maps and type in your desired location. For me, I’ve used Sydney Olympic Park as an example. See the Screenshot below.
Next, I clicked on the first route option, ‘See details’. I was taken to the next screenshot below.
If you hit ‘Save’, you’ll get taken to another page where you can ‘star’ the route. Hitting Save I believe automatically stars the route and adds it to your saved route page, seen earlier. From there, you can go to the record page and select the icon I’ve screenshot below, to get access to your saved and starred routes.
Export your Strava Segment via GPX or TCX file.
On the screenshot above, you’ll see two tabs below the title. One is Export GPX and one is Export TCX. These options are here in case the other options for Syncing routes are not possible for you.
If you already have a maps feature installed on your GPS device, I suggest exporting in GPX form. The opposite is true if you don’t – then export it in TCX. Plug your device into your laptop, and drag it to the necessary maps folder. The device will often be recognized as a USB if it requires a TCX file.
Print out your Segment Map. I am not joking. Strava Suggests this
As I have written above. Old Skool.
For more info on sharing and exporting routes across different devices, see Strava’s own article by clicking the link here: Strava Support – Routes
Strava Segment Explore
Segment Explore on Strava is the place where you can explore already existing segments for all sports available on Strava, and varied surface types/elevation and routes.
My screenshot above of a Strava Explore example I conducted for the Mount Hood, Oregon area – known for its trails and outdoor sports. Here I explored all segments for ‘Running’ and of ‘All’ variety, which options are available to the right of the search bar.
How do I use Strava Segments?
Every time you go for a ride, run, or walk, once you upload your activity to Strava, any segments you completed will appear in your activity summary. If your activity is on public, you may appear on the leaderboard. If you were particularly fast on that day, you may achieve a trophy or crown. All part of the fun of Strava.
Are Strava Segments free?
Competing in Strava Segments is entirely free, however, the create segment Strava feature is for premium members only at present.
Why does Strava not show all segments?
The Strava mobile app or Strava website may not show all segments if you have filtered out certain surfaces, or it is accidentally set on another sport. Make sure surface type is set to ‘all’ and you are looking at segments from your sport of choice.
If Strava segments aren’t appearing on your activity, it could be because your GPS has drifted or uncalibrated during the activity, or you’ve paused your watch during the segment.
Strava Club Challenges using a Strava Segment
When you create a Strava Segment, it generates a URL. Copy and paste the URL from the route page on the Strava Website and paste it into the bio of your club. See my screenshot for an example below:
Make sure the segment is set to public. The ‘JULY SEGMENT CHALLENGE: (URL)’, allows people to run the route and record a time. At the end of the month, I’ll check the leaderboard for the route, and filter it out by just members of the club. This will show me who has recorded the fastest times.
Still need help? Contact me by filling out the form below.
Salomon Running: Adventures in Moab at the Salomon Running Academy
My experience at the Salomon Running Academy is hard to capture in words. The people, the running, and the atmosphere were so welcoming and enthusiastic that it was very hard not to smile the entire time. We would be in constant anticipation of the next adventure around the corner. The phrase ‘once in a lifetime experience’ is tossed around a lot in this day and age, but it truly was for me. This experience at Salomon Ultra Running Academy was an extremely happy time in what has been a hard and testing past 8 months. It has taken me a while to write this post, but here it finally is!
Salomon as a brand has always embodied the mentality of having fun in sporting endeavors and treating the outdoors as one big playground (whilst having respect and as much of a symbiotic relationship with the natural world as possible, see Salomon Sustainability Pledge), hence their hashtag and catch-line #timetoplay. I have loved the brand since I started competitively nordic skiing in primary school, and then in my transition to running, and more specifically distance trail running. So, when I received the email that I had been selected as one of 16 very lucky ducks for Salomon Running Academy USA in Moab, Utah, I was over the moon. I was so excited I had a solo personal dance party. My downstairs neighbors obviously heard my celebratory outcry and ruckus I was making upstairs and texted to ask if I was ok out of concern. Important details to include, to explain just how excited I was. As fate had it, I received the email straight after I finished my final graduate university exam. Moab had been on my adventure list for a while.
The 4 days at Salomon Ultra Running Academy went by extremely quickly – time flies when you’re having fun, as they say. I’m going to do my absolute best to capture the experience.
The Salomon Running Academy team traveled from all around America (Utah, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina, New Hampshire, California…) to meet at the stunning Red Cliffs Resort in the middle of Moab. The resort was down in the valley, hugged by the Colorado River and tucked in below the red rock cliffs. One thing I’ve always loved about America is the diversity of the geography and climate. I’d traveled from the highland desert of Idaho to the highland desert of Utah, yet both were extremely unique and different.
Once we arrived, we were introduced to our new friends, team, and coaches for the next few days. We were extremely lucky to be coached by Salomon Athletes Max King, Courtney Dauwalter, Jamil Coury, Jeffrey Stern, Olivia Amber, and Preston Johnson. I’ve watched every Salomon TV running and backcountry skiing film ever and gained so much stoke from them – so it was amazing to meet these amazing athletes in person. The wonderful runners from around America that I met each had their own interesting backstories and trail tales and laughter to share over the miles we ran. We were so lucky to receive Salomon gear for the camp (like one big Salomon Christmas!), including the Salomon S/Lab Sense 8 Soft and Hard Ground shoes. The Soft Ground shoes came in handy would you believe it, because it rained (!) in Moab on Day 3.
We left the lodge in the afternoon for a much-needed run at Fisher Towers. The trail out and back is around 6.8km (just over 4 miles), 358 (1175ft) of elevation, and breathtaking views. Our colorful Salomon kits added a burst of color to the trademark red of the rocks and towers surrounding us. This run took us a long time because we had so much fun stopping to admire the views, take photos and film content zooming around the trails, and jumping over rocks. I wouldn’t recommend trying to boulder on most of the rocks, I learnt the hard way that the rock is very loose! It is moments like these that you cherish, where you’re completely in the moment and everything feels at peace. I respect these moments because they don’t happen all the time – luckily, this trip was full of them, and LOTS of laughter.
By the time we’d finished our adventure run, the storm which we saw across the valley earlier in the run began to settle in. It was a much-needed relief from the heat and reminded me of the summer evening storms in Australia that I grew up with.
Of course, being a runner, it’s only natural that I mention how good the dinners (and the dinner time view) were at Red Cliffs! Definitely hit the spot after running in the desert all day throughout the camp.
Today’s focus was uphill running, with a focus on running with poles. We drove through the town of Moab to the Hidden Valley Trail. The run begins with a short but steep uphill, perfect for the clinic. Here we refined our mall-walk, used for mildly-steep incline and the trekker technique, for steeper inclines. Often in long distance races it is important to consider where you’ll hike to conserve energy for the more runnable parts of the course. Sometimes it is not feasible to run the entire race. This is part of the fun of long-distance trail running, you have to make strategic decisions to ensure you can cover the ground as fast as you possibly can, without bonking. We were lucky to be greeted with expansive views of the snow-capped mountains in the far distance, despite it being quite hot in the Moab valley.
Being a keen Nordic skier, I was very excited to use poles in my running practice. The uphill pole running came quite naturally, but I definitely need to work on using them to assist me on the steep and technical downhills. A pair of foldable poles are a must if your race has steep technical sections over a long distance. We continued climbing until the trail opened up to a higher valley, where we were lucky enough to come across ancient petroglyphs, some sandy downhills we could absolutely ‘send it’ down, and uphills to put our pole technique to practice and also just goof around!
The Salomon Running crew surprised us for an adventure to Mill Canyon Creek and natural pools for a lunch picnic and much-needed cooldown. A few of us were feeling adventurous and decided to climb above the pools to jump down from the top of the waterfall. After I saw a few other people do it, I had to try it for myself. It was one of those days where each moment you entirely present in, and any stress induced by the past or future temporarily disappears. I really savor days and moments like this. There was a lot of laughter, smiles, and curiosity from the whole group, adventuring and enjoying the environment around Moab.
The evening got even funnier when Max King stitched me up, ordering ‘Rocky Mountain Oysters’ and tricking me into thinking they were freshwater oysters from right out of the Colorado River. Oh how I was wrong, and I found out the hard way by taking a bite, thinking they were ‘fried’ somehow, American style. Rocky Mountain Oysters are a ‘delicacy of the west’, and in fact, are not at all a type of seafood!! If you’re not sure what I’m harping on about, give it a google. Soon the classic Aussie term, ‘stitch up’, had caught on around the camp- I loved it!
Day 3 a few of us got up extra bright and early for a morning run at Porcupine Trail, however I decided to use the time to capture some reel content in a great location, on uncrowded trails, and fit in a bit of rock scrambling too! Digital Marketing and Content Creation in the adventure sports world has always been a bit of a side hobby – if I’m not doing the sport or working in the field, I love to get out there and make content.
The weather today was a lot cooler, with short bursts of rain which is very unique for Moab. However, this was very much needed for the abnormally dry season many parts of the US are experiencing. The small group returned and sang praises for The Porcupine loop, which I hope to run the entirety of next time I get the chance to visit Moab.
Today’s run was focused on downhill technique and slick rock running. We ran through some lower wetland areas up the trail which climbed slightly higher above the Colorado River. The trail hugged the river for almost its entirety, and we were guided to a fun technical downhill to practice bombing down. We all took a few turns running down the trail section as fast as we could, cheering and egging each other on to push it that little bit faster. The rain and wind made it a little bit more fun, to be honest. We were able to run this trail a little faster today, as the terrain was more forgiving and the slick rock allowed for a more sturdy and reliable foot landing. The S/Slab Sense 8 shoes performed extremely well on this terrain, even on the now muddier downhill sections, which were much sturdier on the way out!
A little cold but extremely stoked, we all jumped in the vans and headed back to Red Cliffs to dry off and have some lunch before the afternoon’s activities. We were lucky to meet the selected group of 8 ultra-long distance runners who were attending the camp for the next four days, and spend some time getting to know each other and of course, talking about running and adventures.
Photo by Jeffrey Stern
We paired up and headed out to Arches National Park to create some content. Jamil provided each team with a Gimbal, which has a Gyroscope to stabilize the phone camera whilst you’re on the move. I met the lovely Allison, and we had a blast exploring the rims, cliffs, and rock formations whilst filming the content. That evening we had a movie night and watched everyone’s final product. It was really interesting to see what everyone creates when they are handed a device to aid and express their creativity when given no strict guidelines. We were allowed to let loose in nature and come up with whatever we liked. Definitely a fantastic idea and activity, and a great way to get to know some new faces.
The Salomon team let us know that we would have the opportunity to run a time trial the next day, of around 10.5 miles (1 loop) for the shorter-distance crew and 21 ish miles for the long-distance crew (2 loops). In honesty, personally, I was quite nervous at the idea of running this hard as I had been on a running break for a while due to some medical issues, and recently resumed some mileage in time for the camp. However, after some pep talks by the lovely Salomon team (thank you Courtney!) and my camp teammates, I decided to just give it my best shot, and not put pressure on myself to hold a certain pace. To run it, to take it in, to appreciate the opportunity in front of me – that was the plan.
We all went to bed in high spirits and keen to play and run fast on the trails of Moab in the morning for one last hit-out.
Ready to roll, we drove to the start of the course, recce’d and marked out by Courtney and Olivia the day before. The banter and good vibes filled the atmosphere, and I knew it was going to be an excellent morning. Despite a few days of lots of climbing and mileage (for some!), we all still had energy, because energy is contagious – I’m sure of it.
I loved the opportunity to run this loop with Bonnie, we chatted all about life, navigated the single track, the rocky technical sections, the slick rock, and the small amounts of climbing to push each other through the course. There were some amazing runs by the team, especially some of the paces held over technical trails and distances. I felt motivated to improve my own running technique, and aspire to be as humble and approachable as many of these high-level athletes no matter where life takes me.
The Salomon Running Academy is an opportunity I will never forget. After a very testing 1.5 years since Covid came into this world, the opportunity to attend made many of the harder memories be replaced by a focus on getting fit, healthy and prepared to attend the camp. Soon the harder memories were replaced by wonderful memories of running through Moab with an amazing and supportive group of people from all walks of life. It is one of those experiences that you wish you could relive again and again. However, the great thing about life is there is always time for another adventure, to which you can feel the same exhilaration and that, ‘this is really living’ feeling.
Until the next adventure. Thank you everyone for making The Salomon Ultra Running Academy an experience of a lifetime.
The creators are calling this Strava Update the biggest update of the year. You can now create Strava Group Challenges for free, have access to personalized Strava Segment suggestions and map feature upgrades. I recently updated my Strava Challenge or How to Create A Strava Challenge article to display the most up-to-date steps on this process now that there has been a Strava app update. Over the past year, I’ve had many athletes, clubs, and businesses reach out asking how to create a Strava challenge, and I’ve had to guide them through what used to be some tricker steps. Thanks to this update, creating a strava challenge is now extremely simple. Click the link for a step-by-step guide on how to create a strava challenge for free!
However, you do have to be a Strava Subscriber to create Strava Group Challenges. Alternatively, I discuss how to create sponsored strava challenges (paid), and strava challenges for your strava club which are entirely free.
Strava Marketing Consulting
Hire me as your Strava Consultant – I work with individuals, clubs, businesses, and start-ups. Get in touch with the form below:
Strava App Update
The Strava app update has allowed users to engage in a much more customizable manner with the digital platform than ever before. Below I’ll discuss the specifics of each individual component of the Strava app update.
The ability to Create Strava Group Challenges, in my personal opinion, is the best update of this launch. Here’s a breakdown of what you can and can’t do with this feature:
Creating a Strava Group Challenge: The Basics
You can create a Strava Group Challenge for any of the 32 different sports that Strava offers. Think along the lines of run, bike, swim, hike, alpine ski, backcountry ski, canoe, nordic ski, kayaking, surfing. You name it. Amazing.
You can control the time limit on your Strava Group Challenge. Anything from a day to a year. I tested out creating a challenge for over a year, but it auto-reverts you back to a year.
You can invite athletes to your Strava Challenge, but they must be following you.
The cap on athletes you can invite is 24 athletes
Strava Group Challenges are Private Challenges. These aren’t like the sponsored challenges you can join, which are likely brand affiliated.
You must have your activities set to public or followers only if you want the activity to count for the challenge and be ranked on the leaderboard.
A funky feature: Strava Photos affiliated with the activity (the ones you upload) will be featured on the group challenge page. How neat!
You can choose whether you compete for total distance, time or elevation in the window of time the challenge runs for.
Simple. How fast can you run or wheelchair compete over a distance of your choice.
‘Longest Single Activity’
Also simple. A competition for the most distance someone can complete in one single activity upload. You must set a minimum distance for this challenge.
Strava Group Challenges for Non-Subscribers: What can you do?
For non-subscriber (non-premium Strava members), you can create up to 3 Strava Group Challenges for free. If you want to test the feature and create unlimited challenges, you can always sign up for your free Strava Premium trial by clicking here.
Non-subscribers can join up to 3 Strava Group Challenges.
Strava will encourage you to sign up to Strava Premium after reaching the 3 participation/creation limit.
Strava Club Challenges: What does it mean for your Strava Club Challenge?
For Strava Club Challenges, this isn’t the best option. We are capped at 24/25 athletes in total, and those athletes must be following your personal Strava account. You’d then have to personally invite them to your group challenge.
This may be user-friendly for small athletic clubs, friend challenges, or a small workplace, but isn’t the most ideal way to create a challenge for your Strava Club.
I can walk you through how to Create A Strava Club Challenge in my Create a Strava Challenge article, click here. Alternatively, contact me personally via the form below.
Every seasoned Strava user is familiar with Strava Segments, Strava Segment hunters (haha!), and achieving personal bests, crowns, and all that fun stuff.
Strava Segment Suggestions now personally recommend routes and new segments for you to run, ride, hike, ski, etc. What’s pretty neat about this new feature is the user-friendly organization of segment discovery. There are 6 categories of suggestions.
Most popular roads near you
New segments you haven’t tried and tested
Break a PR/PB: Strava will show you segments where you are super close to breaking a PR!
Climb the Strava leaderboard rankings
Become the new Strava Local Legend
Complete a workout incorporating new areas and/or new Strava Segments
Strava users can also filter suggested segments and routes by distance, activity type (run/bike, etc.), elevation, and surface. I personally love the surface feature, as it allows me to choose when I hit the trails or the concrete.
How Running Changed My Life: My not so glamorous story
It might sound overly dramatic when I say, ‘running changed my life’. The reason I say this is because we’ve all heard it before, a story about a person who struggled through various life adversities and found an outlet in sport or another profession that requires dedication, resilience, and many years of hard work. I’m no different from those people, however, I only truly figured out just how important this sport is to me at the beginning of 2021. It isn’t just something I do, it is a lifeline. This may be unhealthy, or what is often coined ‘an over-reliance because the question is always raised – what happens when you get injured? What happens if for ‘insert reason here’ you can’t run anymore?
Injury is a part of competitive, high-level sport. If I am going to push my body and test my limits, an injury may just be heralding that I’ve found a limit or pushed it a bit far this time. Next time, I’ll approach it differently, in a smarter manner, or address the weakness. Then try again. This is the beauty of sport. You’re either all in for the journey and can understand this, or you’re not willing to risk it. I have had multiple sprained and dislocated ankles from trail running, and a torn tendon from sudden, consistent high-mileage and not enough rest. I’ve learnt my lessons, and I still very likely have many more to learn. The trials and tribulations of being a distance runner!
“There is always darkness before dawn.”
Running has always been a part of my life.
I have always run in some way for the most part of my 22 years. I’d mostly use it to train for other sports or dip my toes in junior and high school cross country for fun. I didn’t experience true competitive running until 17, in my final months of high school. I ‘accidentally’ won a race I entered on a whim, coming back from a week of high altitude nordic ski training. I wasn’t having the most success in nordic skiing, and running seemed to click with me better, and suit my busy life schedule in final exams. After all, you truly can run anywhere – there aren’t a lot of excuses.
This race win was a really big moment for me. Primarily because I didn’t feel like I always fit in throughout my entire schooling. I was sporty, but also very academically driven and was a part of all the school vocal and music-writing groups. I didn’t really have a ‘group’ and there were times I felt extremely ostracized because I wasn’t defined by something. I wasn’t heading out to parties every weekend. I achieved everything I wanted, but not without a fair share of tears, excessive hours of studying and training. Suddenly, after winning the Sydney Harbour 5km, I was known as a ‘runner’. People seemed to change the way they treated me. Almost with more respect. I don’t think this is a good thing, I think we shouldn’t categorize people and define them by what they do – but it got me through, and it definitely still has a lasting impact.
One very cold, rainy morning at 5:30 am, I turned up to a training session with a group in centennial park, Sydney. I might sound a bit strange, but I love training in crazy weather – I am used to it having a background as a nordic skier when we’d wait in the nordic shelter waiting to hear if our heat was going to still run in gale force winds and sideways snow. One time I raced a 5km skate race without poles, the wind was so strong. It was all good fun. I stuck with the consistent run training program my coaches prescribed and never looked back.
Running Saved My Life in multiple low points and in contextual depression.
Fast forward to 2017, and I’m in training for the Australian Cross Country Championships. I’d had a killer year with multiple wins and massive improvement – what is known as the upward training trend in a runner’s improvement before they hit a natural plateau. Unfortunately, a very close family member was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, and I knew I would have to step up my game to support the family in a way I never had before. Aged 18/19 I was not the most emotionally mature, so to comprehend the emotional rollercoaster I went into auto-pilot with my run training. I won the U20 Australian XC Championships because I was so determined, fuelled by very strong emotions and a sense of helplessness. My sick family member was able to come especially to watch this event and to come home with a title I doubted I would ever achieve meant the world to me. To this day, this is one of the most important and joyful days of my entire life.
I am so lucky that my family member has recovered, and I have learned the importance of life at a young age. It is short. It is so important to do everything you can to shape your life around what you value and surround yourself with people who make you a better you.
Long story short, running really saved me during this time, and I am extremely lucky that I was able to run consistently during this period.
The past 1.5 years have been the toughest of my life – more specifically the last 10 months. The coronavirus situation in the U.S. was handled very differently from my home country, Australia. I made the choice early in 2020 not to return home to Australia. My family and I hoped that the situation would clear up for a visit home later, which we now know isn’t the case. Running on a collegiate cross country and track team, I found myself in multiple quarantines which I didn’t handle particularly well. I was lucky enough to never catch the virus and obtain a full dose of vaccination recently. In my first quarantine, whilst being tested continually I was allowed out once a day to run at odd hours in a mask. That was the only thing I could do – so of course, I ran myself silly.
In the second quarantine, we experienced a team shut down. This meant no more practices for the rest of the year and a lack of familiar training structure that we’d become so accustomed to. I found myself sinking into quite a low place, feeling like I’d only just got out of the first quarantine. Radiating pain in my adductor longus started to appear due to overuse combined with poor biomechanics due to lack of strength and conditioning work to supplement my mileage over these quarantines. The inability to run pain-free and a team shut down weighed on me. With an abundance of time alone with my thoughts, I think I began to feel slightly homesick and get really stuck in my thoughts. At one point I needed some medication to help me out of this hole alongside some serious meditation and mindfulness work. During this time I turned to books, I learned new songs on my guitar, I went on walks and collected various rocks/crystals, and learned about how they are formed in the different ecosystems of Idaho. Looking back, it is important to know what you enjoy outside of sport and keep fostering these alongside it.
Early this year I had to take a break from collegiate running as I couldn’t handle high-pressure situations or more quarantines. I was also in a situation that involved a serious breach of trust, and in a minor car accident which sent me plummeting further into the ‘weeds’ (an analogy). I honestly hit a very low spot, and am still working my way out of this. I am frustrated at myself for not being able to bounce back from this quicker. I am working on acknowledging the headspace I am in, and justifying that these new feelings I am experiencing are normal given the situation. The biggest part of all of this is not feeling like I was a part of something, being away from family and away from my team-mates felt extremely lonely. After all, I moved to the U.S. to run collegiately. At one point, the team and the lifestyle of the team were all I knew in this country.
Over the last 2 months, I have made a very large effort to get myself back on track. I gave myself an all-or-nothing attitude. I made a choice. My mentor calls it, ‘The Choice Point.’ It is to ‘act in a manner that is either consistent or inconsistent with your values.’ Essentially, if we let ourselves think consistently in a negative manner on auto-pilot, we don’t make any changes. I like to trouble-shoot this by allowing myself to feel the feelings for a minute or so, and then choose to act in a way that is beneficial to me. Sometimes we won’t be able to do this and instead fall back into old habits. That is ok – practice grace for yourself in these moments. It takes practice and consistent work. As does every skill. The simplest way to remember is when you have a choice about a feeling or action, stop and evaluate, then act in a way consistent with your goals and values.
Some food for thought – we also create our reality through the thoughts, feelings, words, visuals, images, and conversations we experience day in and day out. Watch that the narrative you are creating in the present and moving forward doesn’t follow a consistently negative storyline. We are in charge. The past is the past, it happened, it will resolve naturally. We can only impact the now because only the now exists. It might sound airy-fairy, I know, but it’s the stone-cold truth.
Running Social Media is not reality
This is so important to remember. Everything you see on social media is the carefully selected, best parts of someone’s life. This includes my Instagram, Facebook and Strava. It is just running and sports, and the best parts selected. Why would I post the bad days, or write about the bad times? No one really wants to see that or hear about it. Social media is meant to be a quick fix. But maybe we should normalize this? I wonder what change or response it would create across these platforms if people were a little more genuine about what they post and how they post.
Essentially, it is what they want you to see. In the case of sponsored athletes and professionals of certain disciplines, it is often what is required or expected by the receiving audience. Don’t get sucked in, or as I am trying to very lamely coin, ‘Don’t get stuck in the suck.’ It’s an addiction – looking at what others are doing, what equipment they have, the scenery they get to run in, their stats. The negative side can be a game of comparison or ‘I’m not good enough’. The positive side can be a place of camaraderie, knowledge sharing, connecting with friends and family, and having a laugh.
Running is my fallback when the going gets tough
When push comes to shove, running is my fallback. I won’t lie about this. I simply am a better person if I get out the door each day to run. Whether or not this is considered ‘healthy, I don’t really care. I make it through my injuries perfectly fine and with a greater knowledge of the human body and how to take care of my own even better. I can’t even shoot out some decent anatomy terms now! Not the coolest party trick, but I will take what I can get! I also love to work hard so when rest time happens, I can really kickback.
“It’s not what you think you can do that holds you back, it’s what you think you can’t.”
Thank you again, Malia.
(Malia, my team-mate was sitting opposite me the entire time I wrote this article, firing these inspirational quotes at me as I harassed her with questions about how to write and structure this article. Much love.)
If the idea of meditation running or running as meditation seems like a foreign concept to you, consider the fact that you’ve probably already participated in it. Many of us like to pop in the ear buds and check out while logging our miles, especially for long distances. For some, this is the easiest way to “get through” a workout.
However, the idea of meditation running is not to “get through” your run, but rather “get into” your run. Meditation and running do not have to exist as separate entities. In fact, for those of you who prefer to proverbially “kill two birds with one stone,” meditation running can save time allowing you to benefit from both at once.
Running as meditation can turn what sometimes feels like a chore, or something you’re forcing yourself to do, into an adventure. It offers deeper meaning, mental clarity and healing on top of your physical fitness routine. In the state of today’s world, who doesn’t need a little clarity and healing?
If you’ve ever gone out for a run in a new neighborhood or on an especially craggy trail, chances are good that you’ve participated in meditation running. Meditation in itself is not meant to clear your mind, but instead to become present in the given moment. In a new city or on a rugged trail, you must be vigilant and focus on where you are and the ground beneath you. This action causes you to be present in the moment and to concentrate on right now.
This is just a simple and common example of how you may have already used running as meditation. You can set out to purposefully participate in meditation and running, and I will tell you how in the following sections. Of course, distracting thoughts are going to pop up now and then. That’s normal and expected. Acknowledge them and come back to the moment. Put a pin in those recurring thoughts for later, and be careful not to follow them down the rabbit hole.
How to Meditate While Running
Meditation while running is not necessarily hard, but it may require some practice. This is especially true for those who prefer to zone out with some tunes while running instead of tuning into your zone. The following ideas are a good starting point for learning how to practice meditation while running. Later, I will give you a few more resources to help you use running as meditation.
Counting Breaths or Footfalls
Counting your breaths or foot steps can help keep you grounded in the now. Make up a pattern such as a 1, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 3, 2 count or count by twos or fives. You can even incorporate counting breaths to footfalls and take note of which foot lands on what numbers each time.
Acknowledge Pain or Discomfort
Obviously, intense pain means you should end your workout immediately, but I’m talking about the normal running aches and fatigue that sometimes appear. Don’t ignore these tinges, but don’t focus intently on them, either. This also goes to uncomfortable or stressing thoughts. As mentioned, put a pin in those, save them for later, and come back to now.
Use Mantras or Devotions
Whether you choose a quote from Rocky or prefer a Bible verse, mantras can help keep you focused and present in the moment. Simply repeating positive phrases like I am strong and bold, I can do all things, or I am tougher than this trail can keep you focused. The key is concentrating on what you are saying and repeating it.
Be Aware of All Sounds and Sights
It may be a bird chirping in a tree or a simple stop sign—just take notice and focus on it for just a moment. Perhaps you choose to run as the sun rises and sets. Focusing on the grandeur of the setting and which senses are being triggered can offer a feeling of relaxation—even when you’re running. It may be easier to focus on things by stating what you see, hear, feel, or smell. For example, you could say to yourself I see a tall, green Oak tree, or I feel a gust of cool air on my neck.
Mindful Running: Being in the Moment
Running Meditation has many benefits beyond maintaining your physical fitness and health. For example, let’s go back to rugged trail running. You have to constantly scan the terrain ahead of you and make decisions about where your foot should fall to reduce the risk of injury. You might be dodging low-lying tree limbs, circling around mud pits, or hopping over roots and other natural debris.
All this focus directed at the trail in the very moment you are running it keeps other thoughts and worries at bay. There simply isn’t time to think about problems such as how difficult the run actually is when you are running with the mind of meditation. Instead, you are able to explore the world around you, reflect on it and connect to it.
Not only can running meditation offer practice in meditating, it can also help you improve your running. Perhaps you want to run faster or longer distances. Most often, the only things holding us back are the thoughts we have. Meditation can also help to increase your response inhibition, or ability to ignore the instinct to slow down or stop due to muscle aches or fatigue and keep running.
Another highly-rated running meditation book I found is Still Running: The art of Meditation in Motion, written by Zen-practitioner and long-time runner, Vanessa Zuisei Goddard. Like Running with the Mind of Meditation, Still Running offers instructions on practical ways to practice meditation and running. Additionally, it focuses on the power of being still and how that can lead to “wholehearted” living.
Running Meditation Apps
If you are interested in guided meditation while running, try out a running meditation app. When I went to the app store, I was inundated with meditation apps for relaxation. However, with continued research, I stumbled across Headspace, a website and an app that focuses on meditation for focus and relaxation.
Additionally, Headspace has partnered with Nike to provide a Mindful Running Pack within the Nike Run Club (NRC) app. Choose the length of time you want to run and pick from runs with titles like “Don’t Wanna Run Run,” “Breaking Through Barriers,” and “Mindful Miles.” Then, you simply set out on your preferred route and listen in. This running meditation app does all the focusing for you.
Final Thoughts on Meditation While Running
As you can see, meditation can coexist with running, or other activities. You do not have to be sitting still to reap the benefits of meditation, and practicing meditation while running has its own benefits including lowering stress, easing depression or anxiety, and making your runs easier.
It may take even the seasoned runner some practice, but I’m certain with the help of this article and the resources I discussed, anyone can do it. If you want a little more guidance, don’t hesitate to try a running meditation app. Happy trails!
Cross Training Workouts should be a part of any runners training program. Cross Training Workouts for Runners provide a more holistic approach to training. By holistic, I mean that we learn to use different muscles, different combinations of muscles and ligaments, different patterns of movement (biomechanics), different mental proprioception, and challenge the body in different ways. Essentially, we keep it interesting and I believe that the athlete becomes more well-rounded.
It is really tempting to simply want to run as the sole activity of training. It makes sense right? You are a runner, and to get better at running, we have to run. However, cross training workouts are the difference between what we want and what we need.
This is about listening to your body. Whilst engaging in various forms of cross training does not use the same biomechanical patterning as running (as in a running ‘stride’ or form), the heart is still beating, and therefore you are still improving the amazing engine that is your body.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”
– Ryan Sandes (Pro Salomon Trail Runner)
Trying a new form of training can be daunting. You can feel vulnerable from the feeling of ‘newness’ after being comfortable in one or a few sports for a while. I personally hadn’t been on a mountain bike or road biking (other than commuting) for a while. Today I decided to take what is a very dodgy, extremely old model mountain bike that I use as transport in Boise and go for my first mountain/road bike ride. Why? I felt like it and I had a curiosity to explore the contagious stoke that the biking community of Boise and Idaho have. I am having a small break from running for physical and mental health purposes. I also wanted to challenge myself a little bit.
It was a blast. I caught the bug, and I will be trying it again. All it took was one ride. I truly believe this is the same for others, so I encourage you to try a cross training workout next time you are unmotivated to run, feel a little niggle occurring or simply want to experience something else (and still keep the heart beating). I even got to experience the beautiful golden hour in the Foothills of Boise. See my photo below.
This is my favourite photo I have ever taken. I’m not entirely sure why, and it was a bit rushed honestly. My hands were freezing and my heart rate was through the roof after climbing a hill in the cold air. It was exhilarating though. I think it is the colours and obscurities of the sunlight.
Cross training benefits are numerous, particularly the benefits of cross training for runners.
“The Struggle was real, but every second was worth it”
-Nouria Newman (French Slalom Canoeist, Red Bull)
When runners get injured (and I am speaking for myself here too), it can be quite amusing to observe their habits of self-diagnosis before they actually get a diagnosis. Often they’ll use Dr. Google, the usual rehab methods involving tape and ice, maybe they’ll even be wise and take a few days off. However, we can prevent injury often by cross training, and learning to move our body in many different ways, utilizing many different muscles, in different coordination and patterns of movement.
To put it simply, we allow our body and mind a break from the repetitive movement of running. Often this allows the muscles, ligaments and tendons to heal a bit so you’re better prepared for your next run.
My mum who is a sports medicine physician in Australia once shared with me some very wise words about cross training for running. The heart is still beating. It doesn’t know the difference between a long swim, long run or long ride. She explained this to me whilst I was recovering from one of many sprained ankles. Whilst our musculoskeletal patterning may differ, we are still getting a very valuable training effect.
We are also training our mind differently. We are building mental toughness. For example, when I choose swimming as a cross training workout, I am inflicting myself (or am I actually benefiting myself?! That’s the paradox!) staring at some pool tiles and a black line for a significant amount of time. This is difficult when I have the privilege of looking at stunning mountain or seaside landscapes when I run outside.
Personally, my biggest cross training benefit has been the comfort I have in knowing that if I get injured, I am fully capable of throwing myself into a variety of other sports. In these sports I am distracted from my running injury, yet finding joy in a new and refreshing activity. Again, this is why I’d encourage you to integrate cross training workouts into your running schedule.
Below is a list of cross training examples I can think of. Maybe you could integrate a cross training session in instead of a second run, or even in replacement for a recovery run. Looking to increase endurance training load? Why not pop in a cross training workout.
“This is your life, live it with passion”
-Thabang Madiba (Salomon Trail Runner, South Africa)
Cycling as Cross Training For Running
The hardest part about going for a road bike is simply getting on the bike in the first place and starting (at least I find). Whether it’s the cold, the heat, or preparing the bike for the ride. As always, be cautious of vehicles, animals, pedestrians, weather conditions etc. I suggest doing a hilly route and sprinting up the hills, floating the flats, and relaxing on the downs for a solid endurance workout.
Spin biking can be a blast, especially with music. I like to create playlists where each song/track has a specific workout purpose allocated to it. For example, there is a mix of sprint songs, high RPM (revolutions per minute) songs, out of the saddle climbing songs, and in the saddle climbing songs, plus recovery songs. It can make for a great workout. If you have the option, you could even try a spin class for some extra motivation.
Mountain Biking as Cross Training For Running
Mountain biking as cross training for running is great as it challenges your proprioception and reaction time, along with continual changes in leg and body movement to navigate the natural changes/variations on the trails. The uphill climbs can really challenge you, as often you’ll be navigating around rocks, facing patches of sand or mud, or avoiding other cyclists and pedestrians (if you’re unlucky). The downhills are simply a hoot.
“I think the mountains have helped keep me alive, keep me going, and keep me focused on this is what I’m doing right now”
– Jim Morrison (The North Face Mountaineer and Brand Ambassador)
Swimming as Cross Training For Running
Swimming is one of my favourite forms of cross training for running. I feel like it works every part of your body, and challenges you to control your oxygen capacity and therefore the breath. To work with the breath when physically exerting yourself is very humbling, and in its own unique way, grounding. The silence of being underwater, and swimming being a solo activity, is also quite meditative. There are so many swim workouts searchable online. I like doing a warm up, cool down, sprint and distance mixed sets, and in the pool fartlek style workouts.
Elliptical as Cross Training For Running
The elliptical trainer is one of the simplest forms of cross training for runners as almost every gym has one, and it doesn’t require you to own any extra equipment. It’s also quite similar to the action of running, without the impact. Many runners I know and train with will supplement running with a session on the elliptical.
Nordic Skiing as Cross Training For Running
This is a challenging cross training activity but the benefit is the miraculous fitness benefits you’ll receive from investing time into skate or classic cross country skiing. It is truly a total body workout. Some of the highest recorded VO2 max levels come from nordic skiers. They have to use both their arms and legs uphill, ski downhill without edges, sidestep corners and maintain a very good sense of balance. Also, altitude is often involved, which means altitude training benefits as an extra.
I guess what I am trying to communicate, or the moral of this post if you like, is don’t be afraid to try something new, or take some time off if you need it. Running will always be there for the most part. We don’t want to be risk-averse, as this doesn’t equal an enriched and life fully lived. If we don’t take a risk here and now, we can’t expect to learn new things about ourselves.